Moving Annual Meetings and Voting Online in Light of COVID-19

man using digital tablet to vote online
Laura Lynch Photo
Products & Services Manager

3 minutes

Read these FAQs from NCUA, plus four more from CUES, to prepare for election season.

Spring is credit union election and annual meeting season both in the U.S. and Canada. With government mandated social distancing measures being put into place around the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic, credit unions are looking for alternatives to in-person voting and in-person annual meetings.

NCUA released these statements advising credit unions of their options:

CUES has also been fielding questions from credit unions suddenly left wondering if there is quick alternative to in-person voting and trying to execute on the details of going virtual.

As products & services manager for CUES, I have worked on credit union board elections, merger votes, bylaw votes and charter conversions for almost 15 years. The value of online voting software, like most technology, comes in knowing how to use it. With over 300 credit union elections under my belt, I consult with credit unions to customize elections to meet credit unions' specific needs.

Here are some short answers to questions CUs are facing around in-person meetings and voting:

1. Can I conduct voting online instead of in person at my annual meeting?

If the credit union's bylaws do not allow for online voting, per NCUA’s FAQs around COVID-19, boards can amend bylaws with a two-thirds vote of its board.

For Canadian credit unions, each province’s regulators are making exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

2. How much time is required to set up online voting?

Typically, our window is 30 days to set up online voting. Given the current climate, and pending quick decisions made by clients, CUES can fast track election setup for most credit unions.

U.S. federal credit unions also have the option to adjust their annual meeting date and election timeline. This could allow more time to pivot from in-person voting to online voting.

3. Can I conduct my annual meeting virtually?

NCUA’s recent COVID-19 FAQs speak to the legalities of virtual meetings, for U.S. credit unions, and Canadian credit unions can check the Canada Business Corporations Act for guidance. Aprio, a CUES strategic partner, has also shared some important considerations when moving to a virtual annual meeting.

4. Are paper ballots still an option for voting?

Yes. Credit unions can still print and mail paper ballots to members.

Through CUES, paper ballots and online voting can be offered in a hybrid election as well. CUES also offers phone voting.

On March 22, the USPS released this statement about continuing service. The USPS is considered a vital service of the government, and they do plan to continue service. Given the situation and how quickly things could change, however, offering an alternative method of voting—be it online or by phone—is advisable at this point.

Laura Lynch is CUES' products & services manager.

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